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Spleen

Portugal is an accidental country. It is also a poor country, it has always been but, somehow, it has always been a proud country. By and large the Portuguese are also down-to-earth. Portugal had its golden age. It was built on trade and exploration, on diplomacy and naval prowess. After all, for centuries Portugal governed the only open port in China open to European traders. Portuguese was, for many years, the language of trade in Asia. Yet, Portugal’s grasp was weak and Dutch assaults undermined this first great European empire. It wasn’t personal; of course, Portugal was a weaker proxy to attack the Spanish crown. The Dutch would not provoke an open conflict with Spain. They would lose that and they knew it. As Portugal declined, they maintained some semblance of economic functionality by levying taxes on goods from Brazil destined for Britain’s growing industries.  Portugal was weak and poor, but it had an empire to the bitter end and its legacy was maintained.

In contrast, Portugal’s violent, egotistical neighbour has a long history of parasitism. Portugal built its golden age on trade, Spain on the blood of the Americas. Spain is little wealthier than Portugal, merely much larger. Spain’s glory was paid for by gold and silver from the Americas. Initially, the gold of the Inca and Aztec empires paid for their first post-liberation flourishing. After the Tears of the Sun started to dwindle, Spain had a fortunate break. The mountains of Bolivia and parts of Mexico are home to rich veins of silver. The Spaniards quickly had a second flourishing funded by working enslaved indigenes to death. With the advent of the Bourbon Reforms, Spain switched tack and made even more money by importing African slaves to their colonies. The Portuguese did this too, of course. The largest share – over 40pc, were brought to Brazil. When the Americas had enough and threw Spain out, Spain became an impoverished irrelevance unable and unwilling to reform itself in order to remain relevant. Those rare efforts that bore fruit quickly collapsed as most Spaniards were content to be nothing while banging on about their former glory.

Let’s move forward in time.  Spain is once again at the end of an era of prosperity and building projects. Once again, Spain is home to innovative architecture, to new roads and ports, to enviable infrastructure including airports and trains. But who has paid for this? Oh yes, that great thicko of post-war Europe, Deutscher Michel and, for now, John Bull. Germany and Britain have had to live with crumbling infrastructure due to funding problems but could always afford to support Spain’s efforts to inflate its collective ego even more. As usual, we’re the eejits and, of course, the descendants of those whose blood and sweat funded Spain’s moment of glory are treated as little better than animals.

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Categories: General
  1. christinaosborne
    July 2, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    What about a re-run of the immolation of the Armada just for old times sake?

  2. July 2, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    CO: we came closer earlier this year! The bogging Guardia Civil threatened to ram a US Navy nuclear armed submarine off the coast of Gibraltar. I say we raze Cadiz again!

  3. July 2, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Christopher!

    What do you mean ‘we’ in re Cadiz?

    I don’t believe that your ancestors or mine were involved in that beard-singeing

    Pity, of course.

    I have to admit that I think that my Southron cousins done well that day.

  4. christinaosborne
    July 2, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Sounds like a plan!
    Need to have a war with someone before civil war breaks out in the UK! Nothing like a good war to unify a country. Just see how the frogs filled such a position for centuries, the enemy! Perhaps we should just have a go at them again?
    Hmm, doesn’t that sound like a rerun of the War of Spanish Succession?
    Just the thing to divert Brexit/Remainers.
    ‘Bourbon’ biscuits will be served at 4pm! With tea of course.
    (Not that the uneducated cretins would understand such a necessity of course.) Too busy watching idiot football and silly cacophonous bands.

  5. christinaosborne
    July 2, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Perhaps it would be reasonable to offer christopher honorary citizenship? (Should be bear to want it)
    He can’t help being half kraut!
    But where does he get that tea drinking habit from?
    No doubt the indigenous people side. That will do!
    (Sorry Christopher, irresistible!)

  6. July 2, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    JM: There is a very good possibility that some of my family were involved with that, some of my ancient relatives having been in the Dutch and English navies for some time. Today we could simply send an army of Black Country Yam-yams, a few NEDs, some Brummie Oiks and Sarf Lunnon chavs to support them. Promise them all the piss they can find in southern Spain if they do the job thoroughly.

    CO: Oh, please do! Although I dislike “kraut”, I much prefer “Hun”. Please do offer me honorary citizenship or, even better, formal citizenship. It’s a bloody nuisance having to travel to the US for Asian work visas. Much easier, and more civilised, to fly to Blighty. You’ll find that I’m largely Anglicised. The Huns always wonder when I will bugger off back “home” to England and the Yanks always think they have to explain the most minute details of life in the USA to me as I’d never pass or be accepted as one.The fondness for tea has the same origins as the fondness for plum pudding, treacle, Lyle’s Golden Syrup, spotted dick, roasts and Yorkshire pudding.

  7. July 2, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    CO, good evening.

    Citizenship? May you be forgiven. Surely a bit disrespectful in the post-Brexit realm of Her Majesty?

    I have no problem with offering CaT honorary British subjectship. Or is it subjecthood?

    Not that I am happy about this nonsense of his preferring be called a ‘Hun’. There is, in my opinion, room for only one Hun in the Chariot and that’s JW.

    Mind, when I think about it, PNG has often seemed to me to display profoundly Hunnish sympathies and I would not want to offend him. It’s a worry.

    Maybe we should introduce a point system to stop non-acceptable Huns coming here. My suggestion is that when our future Border controls spot that an incomer has a point or spike on his helmet, they just don’t let him in,with his Zeppelins, dachshunds and car industry.

    Even if he does bring the excellent beers and wurst of Germany with him.

    You know it makes sense.

    .

  8. July 2, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Milan Kundera, JM, would admire your new lightness of being….. 😎

  9. July 2, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Big March of the Huns today, JM. Seen a maroon-coloured troop called The Heart of Midlothian Flute Band Sashay round George Square this morning. As a Hun I’m not in your Hanseatic League, my friend.

    Three cups for Christopher. Delighted that you’re a tea drinker. The overrated bowfin’ beverage coffee is for mugs.

  10. christinaosborne
    July 2, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    I see you are all on form today!

  11. Boadicea
    July 2, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    Do I lose my citizenship if I say I can’t stand tea? 🙂

  12. July 3, 2016 at 12:22 am

    Boadicea: no, but you will be deemed suspicious!

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